Philippines President Duterte: Trump Wished Me Well In My Drug War Campaign

By Keri Blakinger 12/05/16

President-elect Donald Trump even invited Duterte to visit the White House in 2017 during their seven-minute phone call.

Philippines President Duterte: Trump Wished Me Well In My Drug War Campaign
Photo via YouTube/Shutterstock

President-elect Donald Trump recently praised his Philippine counterpart’s bloody version of the War on Drugs, according to the island nation’s President Rodrigo Duterte. 

The two spoke for seven minutes on Friday, and Duterte later released a statement recounting alleged details of the conversation, according to the Washington Post

The Philippines leader has sparked widespread criticism for his brutal anti-drug campaign that’s left more than 4,500 dead in less than six months – but he claims Trump told him he’s doing it the “right way” as a sovereign nation. Duterte has indiscriminately murdered drug dealers and users alike in a wave of extrajudicial killings since he took office on June 30.

While some of the deaths were reportedly during shootouts with police, others were in vigilante-style killings in the middle of the night. Afterward, bodies littered the streets – each adorned with a cardboard sign recounting their supposed drug crimes. According to Reuters, around "2,300 people have been killed in police operations or by suspected vigilantes since Duterte took office."

Yet Duterte claims Trump has given his bloody actions a nod of approval. “I could sense a good rapport, an animated President-elect Trump,” he said of the call. “And he was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem.”

It’s a markedly different tone than the controversial leader has taken during the Obama administration. In September, a reporter asked Duterte how he planned to explain his slaughter to Obama at an upcoming meeting in Laos, and the Philippine president responded with a foul-mouthed tirade. 

"I am a president of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony. I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “You must be respectful. Do not just throw questions. Putang ina I will swear at you in that forum," he said, throwing in the Tagalog phrase for “son of a bitch.”

Duterte has compared himself to Hitler, threatened to “break up with” America, and told Obama to “go to hell,” according to CNN. He’s also cursed out the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, the pope, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. 

But after Trump’s November victory, Duterte started singing a new tune, speculating that the two would get along and offering an enthusiastic “long live” Trump. 

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.